Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 Year in Review

Well, I have been blogging for just short of a year here and absolutely love it. I really loved being able to look back on this year and see what I have done!

To start out, after traveling to Peru at the beginning of the year, I moved back to the town I grew up in with my sister, Hailey and my niece Addison. I have got to spend so much time with them that just wouldn't be possible if we didn't live together, let alone if we lived a hour apart like we did prior to Peru. From her first day of school, to playing in the pool, strawberry picking and having friends over, I just can't get enough of her. I also love the picture we got this year of everyone on my mom's side of the family, all women with the exception of my lone guy cousin. I went to my first NFL game thanks to my friend Jo. I spent numerous weekends in Portland with Michelle and her family, including seeing Sand in the City.

I took a cake class this year and have definitely improved my decorating skills. Other than that, it was mostly baking. If I had to pick one recipe to make from the 16 pictures below, it would be the cinnamon roll pancakes. Or no, the banana bread. Or the lemon poppyseed cupcakes with strawberry buttercream.

From left to right, top to bottom:
Bacon Wrapped Pepperjack Shrimp
Bacon Ranch Cheese Pull-a-Part
Dora the Explorer Cake
Brown Butter Dark Chocolate Chunk Toffee Cookies
Watermelon Waffles
Strawberry Stuffed French Toast
Cinnamon Roll Pancakes
Best Banana Bread Ever
Sheep Cupcakes
Oreo Cupcakes
Lemon Poppyseed Cupcakes with Strawberry Buttercream
Watermelon Cake Pops

Getting a sewing machine for my birthday this year was awesome and allowed me to more easily make my polka dot wallet I just adore. Plus, I made a handful of other crafts, most of them being gifts.

From left to right, top to bottom:
DIY Mail Organizer
Teacher's Survival Kit
DIY Kitchen Canisters
DIY Taggie Blanket
DIY No Sew Onesie + Itty Bitty Baby Booties
Handmade Wallet
DIY Coasters
Tin of Dates
I Love You Because...Frame

I am happy I started this blog to catalog my projects and recipes. It is fun to share and super helpful to have some of my favorite recipes online to access when I find myself needing one. Thanks for tagging along!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

O Christmas Tree Cupcakes

This post was originally shared Monday on Frosting for a Cause. In case you missed it, I thought I would share it here too. But you really should go check out Frosting for a Cause if you have never stopped by - amazing project.

For my Frosting for a Cause post, I wanted to bake something festive, with Christmas coming up this weekend as well as get out my piping bags because it has been too long since I've played with frosting. :)

I baked some simple chocolate cupcakes from a box mix.

Then, I made some buttercream frosting using the following recipe:

2 cups butter, room temperature or a little softer
1lb (about 4 cups) powdered sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract

Mix all ingredients slowly at first so as not to spill powdered sugar. Then, speed up mixer until combined.

I dyed it green using Wilton's Kelly Green food coloring. Then, I scooped it into a piping bag.

For the "snow" under the trees, I used a little trick to get a smooth thin layer of frosting on your cupcake. To do this, I used store bought frosting and melted it for about 8-10 seconds (depending on how much you use) in the microwave.

Then, I dipped the tops of each cupcake into the melted/thinned frosting. So sorry for the blurriness of the picture below. I had a heck of a time photographing and doing this at the same time.

To make the trees, I used Wilton tip 1M, which is a large star tip, to swirl a base and build upon it to make a tree. Finally, I added various sprinkles to each tree.

May your days be merry and bright and your new year filled with hope. God bless!

This post is linked up to some of the parties listed under my Show & Tell tab at the top of the page. Go check them out for more inspiration! 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Frosting for a Cause

I'm so excited to be guest blogging over at Frosting for the Cause. I'm sharing some festive cupcakes and my story of how cancer has affected my life.

Frosting for the Cause

Pretty please go check it out! It's a wonderful project that I'm so thankful to be a part of!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Speechless Sunday


I have never had a white Christmas. Crazy huh? That's what I get for living the valley. This picture will have to do this year.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Yarn Balloons

Stop pinning and start making, right? I'll be the first to admit, my boards on pinterest are a wee bit out of control. Remember this challenge, where you use your time to take pinned inspiration and make it come to life? Well, after seeing the picture below, Michelle and I pretty much went straight to the store, bought lots of glue and yarn and had at it, accompanied by Friends and Voodoo doughnuts late into the night.

Jessica Levitt of Juicy Bits

These yarn balloons are from a rainbow unicorn party, where the post links to these directions. If you're the type to figure it out as you go, this is pretty much all you need to know:

We used Elmer's glue and it worked just fine. I used an pink ombre-esque colored yarn and love the way the sphere's turned out. The density of the yarn balloons completely depends on how much yarn you wrap around the balloons. The rainbow ones have lots more yarn than my pink example. Read on for a few more tips.

If you want to make this project for decorations, give yourself plenty of time to allow for complete drying of the glue/water soaked yarn before you need them. This does not happen in a few hours. We found that even over night, there were parts of the year that was still damp in the morning, which meant that when we popped the balloon, the wet yarn caved in.

Speaking of popping the balloon and just for re-emphasis, you need to make sure you wait, wait, wait until all of the yarn is completely dry. For this smaller one pictured, this was probably a good 24+ hours. Next, I would highly suggest poking your finger in as many of the spaces to release the glued yarn from the balloon.

Doing so will help avoid the implosion of your yarn balloon into a sad twisting of stiffened yarn. I've seen it happen.

When preparing to pop the balloon, do so with the concept of slowly releasing air from the balloon, achieving this by pinching the tied end of the balloon if possible and making a teeny tiny incision. The slow release of air will also help the yarn sphere hold its shape. Then, you will have a wrinkly little balloon to remove from inside your sphere.

Now, just figure out where you're going to hang them, in a kid's room, above the food table at a party or maybe not hang them at all. I think it would be cute to make small ones in holiday colors, then fill a festive bowl as a table decoration.

Oh and don't forget Friends and Voodoo. :)

This post is linked up to some of the parties listed under my Show & Tell tab at the top of the page. Go check them out for more inspiration!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

#18 Go to a NFL game. [✓]

How sweet is it when a friend texts you Sunday and asks if you could play hooky from work for half a day to drive 4 hours to watch some Monday Night Football, live at CenturyLink Field in Seattle for free? I couldn't say no and have a pretty darn understanding boss, so we road tripped up there.

Bundled up, we screamed lots with the loudest fans in the league to get the total opponent false starts since 2005 up to 112 or 113. Can't recall. I loved the energy, the abundance of fireworks, the spectacle that is a professional football game. I really couldn't believe how loud CenturyLink Field gets when the opponent (in this case, St. Louis) has the ball. Apparently, the highest decibel recorded at the Seahawks stadium is 112. Noise from a Boeing 747 is 130dB and the crowd gets down to 87dB when the Seahawks are on offense. It's all just nuts. So fun.

If you have read my 25 Before 25 List, you will know go to a NFL game is a current addition. I don't expect anyone to know what #18 was prior to the switcheroo, but had decided to make a few changes to the list, switching out the more on-going goals in favor of singular task-oriented accomplishments.

In this case, I swapped spend the night once a month with Grammy out and added something from my bucket list, go to a NFL game. My Grammy is still at the age where my spending the night at her house makes her feel like she has to do everything and "host" me, not let me help her make dinner or anything while I'm there. I've been able to spend a lot more time with her since I moved back to my hometown this past summer. However, she became a snowbird this year and is spending the next 3 months in sunnier weather, which means spending the night with her is an expensive plane ride away. Going to an NFL game has been on my bucket list mostly because I wanted to experience how different the fans are in comparison to NBA or MLB games. And that they are. It was a super fun game, Seahawks beating the Rams, 30-13.

Thanks a million Jo for so unexpectedly helping me check this off my list. You're the best!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Speechless Sunday

Stunning. I love this shade of blue. It is the Odessa Dress from

Friday, December 9, 2011

Credit Card Pocket Tutorial for Wallets/Clutches

Thanks to everyone who has checked out My Very Own Wallet Clutch Thing. I promised to show how I added the credit card pockets to the Checkbook Cover pattern from Amy Butler's Styles & Stitches. This method can be used for sewing credit card slots into any wallet or clutch. My apologies for this being so late after the initial post! To be clear, I am no sewing expert, but this is how I did it and it worked for me. I also want to say I am sorry that I didn't take enough pictures. Please email me if you have questions at purplestpecalin [at] gmail [dot] com!

I used 3 different fabrics from Hometown by Sweetwater for Moda Fabrics: Hometown Sky Barbershop (gray polka dots on teal cotton), Hometown Mist Barbershop (white polka dots on gray canvas) and Hometown Stop Sign Town Square (words on flap, shown here). If you are using the Checkbook Cover pattern from Amy Butler's Styles & Stitches, like I did, then you can do this after Step 5d.

1. Cut pieces of fabric for the card slots. Base these on the measurement of whatever size of fabric you are adding the pockets to, in this case, I cut two pieces of fabric 6 x 8 inches. Each piece will be folded in half, making each one 3 x 8 inches, which is just smaller than the 3.5 x 8 inch pocket I sewed them onto.

Hopefully, the picture below of the final product illustrates what I mean by cutting them a little shorter (keeping the length the same, 8 inches in this case) than whatever you are sewing them onto, as seen where the gray pockets hit the teal one.

The pieces I cut are shown below in gray and white polka dot fabric. The blue and polka dot fabric is the piece the gray fabric will be sewn onto and was cut based on the Checkbook Cover pattern from Amy Butler's Styles & Stitches.

2. Iron all pockets in half lengthwise.

3. Sew across the top of each of your pockets, which is where your pressed crease should be. I sewed two lines approximately 1/4" from the top because I liked the way it looked. You could do a decorative stitch here if you like since that is the only purpose of these stitches.

4. Make one 1/4" seam baste stitch down each short side of your pockets, as shown in the picture below.

At this point, all three pieces (or however many pockets you are making) should have some sort of stitch across the top, folded part of the fabric, as well as along each sort side.

5. Now, line up where you would like your first top pocket (gray/white polka dot fabric) to sit on top of your base pocket (teal/gray polka dot fabric). I placed mine just under my top stitches on the teal/gray polka dot fabric, which was about an 1/8" below the bottom stitch. Pin in place.

6. Next, take a credit, library, ID, rewards, etc. card and slide it under the fabric as if there was a pocket. Wherever you want it to sit is where you will place a ruler to mark your next stitch. The white peeking out from the gray fabric is my card I measured the pocket with and the clear ruler is where I marked the line to sew in order to keep your cards easily accessible/visible. Use a fabric pencil or soluble marker to lightly mark where you want your stitch to be.

7. Sew a stitch along your mark, backstitching at each end.

8. Sew the short sides down along each side, leaving a 1/4" inch seam, as shown in the picture below step #4.

9. Now you can add your second pocket, lining it up just like you did the first one in step 5. Pin and sew across the bottom, then along the sides. You will have some over hang of fabric, which is fine and will just need to be trimmed off after sewing the pieces together. Always better to have too much, than too little.

10. Finally, you need to mark a line down the very middle of your pockets, where you will stitch to create the two sides for cards to be placed. Double stitch this line, backstitching on both ends.

11. Now your credit card pocket slots are ready to sew into the rest of your wallet/clutch. If you are using Amy Butler's Styles & Stitches Checkbook Cover pattern, continue with Step 6. Your final product will eventually look like this!

Whew! That was far longer than I thought it would be. Please, please, please ask if you have any questions. This is my first time trying to be super detailed in sharing how I made something other than a recipe, so I am happy to make any clarifications.

This post is linked up to some of the parties listed under my Show & Tell tab at the top of the page. Go check them out for more inspiration!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree

Hands down one of my favorite parts of the holiday season is decorating the Christmas tree. It seals the deal on verifying that yes, Christmas is upon us. Plus, it just smells so good.

Last night we picked out our tree out and got it as straight as it is going to get, while my 3 year old niece serenaded us with the following lines of  at any given time:

"Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree..."  --  Appropriately enough.

"'Tis the season to be jolly, fla la la la la la la la la...FLA, la la la la, la la, la, LA!"  --  Notice, it's fla, not fa. Every time.

"Frosty the snowman sailed the ocean blue in 1492."  --  Not joking. She really said this. Multiple times. It was awesome. She loved learning about Mr. Columbus, so it only makes sense to combine him into the next holiday.

"Happy Hanakuah, happy hanakuah, festibol of lights." -- We are not Jewish. But, I completely appreciate the diversity she provided for the evening. And that she says festibol of course.

"...Put Christmas in your heart..."  --  So precious and sweet.

And one of my faves, "Jingle hells, jingle hells, jingle all the way."  --  Not a typo. She thinks this is what a Christmas dog she has sings when you push his paw. We have tried to convince her otherwise.

She is a well rounded  little girl, I'd say. Any time she couldn't quite get the hook on the ornaments, this is how they ended up.

Of course, when you're 3 and are learning to organize, this is how you hang ornaments.

Love love love decorating trees. How does your tree look this year?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Salted Caramel Fudge

I can't believe it's already been one month since I first participated in the Crazy Cooking Challenge hosted by Mom's Crazy Cooking. Last month I shared Mashed Potato Cakes as part of the mashed potato theme last month. This month, in theme for holiday parties and such, is fudge.


Are you ready for this? I wasn't. You see, I have never made fudge before. In fact, for all the baking I love to do, every time (and I can count all on one hand) I dabble in the candy-esque side of baking/cooking, it doesn't turn out so pretty. (See: my first attempt at cake pops.) Candy thermometers, simmering, thickening, dipping, rolling, and prettying any sort of treat (except cupcakes) tends to frustrate me. To top it off, I am not a huge fan of these type of treats, with the exception of Michelle's toffee. I've messed that up too and it's simple. I'm such a cupcake and cookie girl. Yes, I don't really like fudge.

Whew. Now, that that is all out of the way, I still really wanted to participate so I searched for a recipe that 1) didn't require a candy thermometer and 2) I might potentially like. It is safe to say, I'll eat/drink anything salted caramel related. That eventually landed me at this recipe posted by Zoe at Bake for Happy Kids. You can only imagine how thrilled I was to find that it [almost] turned out perfectly and was so easy.

She lives in Australia so her recipe was all metric. I've converted it below.

Salted Caramel Fudge
Adapted from Super Food Ideas, Dec 2010 issue via Bake for Happy Kids

1 (14oz) can of sweetened condensed milk
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup golden syrup*
2 Tablespoons glucose syrup (from my research glucose syrup is corn syrup)
1 stick + 1 Tablespoon butter, chopped
6.35 ounces (180g) white chocolate, flaked/grated
1 tsp sea salt

* I did not have golden syrup and learned that it really isn't sold in the U.S. except at select stores and Whole Foods or World Market, neither of which are close to me. Next time, I will hunt down some golden syrup to see if it makes a difference, but this time, I just substituted corn syrup for golden syrup.

In a saucepan, on low heat, add condensed milk, sugar, syrup(s) and butter. Cook for 10 minutes without bringing to a boil, stirring until mixture is glossy and sugar has dissolved.

Turn heat up to medium-low, bringing mixture to a simmer while stirring constantly for 6-8 minutes or until mixture thickens. At this point, it should come away from the side of the pan as seen below.

Remove from heat and stir in chocolate until completely melted and combined. Here is my tip: do not use white chocolate chips as you see below. Use white chocolate brick and grate it with a cheese grater because the chips took forever to melt. Forever = 20+ minutes. No joke. Stirring and stirring. In fact, I was so sick of stirring, there are a few little pieces of white chocolate in the fudge.

Pour into 8x8 inch pan. Zoe suggested lining the pan with parchment paper, but I didn't have any.

Sprinkle with sea salt. Set aside for 30 minutes to cool. Then, cover and refrigerate for 6 hours, or until firm. Enjoy!

So, not to my surprise, mine never completely got to the right consistency of fudge, but it is still yummy. It may look a little caramel-esque, but its texture is actually fudge-like. I obviously still need practice cooking fudge. You should go check out Zoe's gorgeous pictures because I love the way she photographed/wrapped the fudge.

Maybe I'll find some tips and tricks to fudge making in the links below. Make sure you go check some out too. Oh, and vote for my link listed below #59! I would LOVE it. Just click "Like."

This post is linked up to some of the parties listed under my Show & Tell tab at the top of the page. Go check them out for more inspiration!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Speechless Sunday

I found this on pinterest and the source was a broken link, so if you've seen this somewhere else, please let me know so I can give proper credit.
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